States Say R.J. Reynolds Aims for Kids to Smoke; States Call Cartoons ‘Illegal’

By From The Blotter

Dec 4, 2007 4:55pm

Attorneys general in seven states charged today that the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company has violated the national Tobacco Master Settlement (MSA) by using "cartoons and popular music to lure young children into a lifelong addiction." "We will not allow this corporation’s clear and continuous disregard for the law and for the health of young people to go unchecked," New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in a statement about his civil suit. According to Cuomo, RJR "has been marketing its Camel cigarettes through its ‘The Farm Free Range Music’ ad campaign, which features cartoons and links cigarettes to RJR’s support of indie rock." Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. "A nine-page advertising spread of cartoons appeared in the November 17, 2007 ’40th Anniversary Edition’ of Rolling Stone Magazine. RJR also created a ‘FarmRocks’ CD that it mailed out in Camel-branded, cartoon-imprinted packaging. The CD has now been labeled as a ‘collectible’ item on eBay," Cuomo’s office said in the statement. The MSA is a settlement with the tobacco industry that was signed in 1998 with 52 states and territories. It prohibits tobacco companies from marketing to children and places other restrictions on all cigarette advertising. When the MSA was created, RJR’s "Joe Camel" advertising campaign was singled out as an offensive effort to market cigarette to children. The other states filing action against RJR today are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington. The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Christine Morrison, under the supervision of Dana Biberman, chief of the Tobacco Bureau, and Mylan Denerstein, executive deputy attorney general for Social Justice. A spokesman for R.J. Reynolds said the company disagrees with the allegations filed by the state attorneys general. "Bottom line, we don’t believe that our Camel advertisements violate the settlement, nor do we believe that the actions that have been take by the states today are in line with the requirements clearly spelled in the master settlement agreement to handle alleged violations," said David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, referring to the Tobacco Master Settlement.    Howard also said the tobacco company was surprised and concerned by the Rolling Stone-produced illustrations that their ads accompanied. "Had we been aware in advance of the graphics prepared by Rolling Stone, we would not have advertised adjacent to the feature," Howard said.  Do you have a tip for Brian Ross and the Investigative Team?

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